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Kansas State makes NCAA Tournament for first time under baseball coach Pete Hughes

The wait is over.

Kansas State baseball is heading back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. The Wildcats earned an at-large berth into the competition on Monday as a No. 3 seed. They will open play against Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. on Friday in the Fayetteville Regional, with Arkansas and Southeast Missouri State playing on the other side of the bracket.

Fans can stream the action on ESPN+.

It was unclear if K-State had done enough to earn an invitation to its first NCAA Regional in more than a decade when the Wildcats exited the Big 12 Tournament with an overall record of 32-24. That made for a nervous wait leading up to Selection Monday, and then jubilation when players received the good news.

This is what K-State baseball coach Pete Hughes has been building toward since he was hired in Manhattan. The Wildcats have been painfully close to reaching the NCAA Tournament in previous seasons but missed out with 33 wins last year and with 34 wins in 2021.

Hughes beefed up his team’s non-conference schedule this year to try and help K-State finally make the field of 64. His plan worked.

Now the Wildcats can prove they belong by playing well in this week’s regional.

The Fayetteville Regional will be a double-elimination competition with four teams playing on the Arkansas campus. The Razorbacks (43-15) will be favored against SEMO (34-25), Louisiana Tech (45-17) and K-State.

But anything can happen in the postseason.

If K-State wins the Fayetteville Regional it will advance to its first Super Regional since 2013, the year that the Wildcats won 45 games and claimed a Big 12 championship.

All roads in the NCAA Tournament lead to Omaha, where the College World Series will begin next month.